Since taking office earlier this year, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) administration has demanded payment for access to public records, a policy that newspapers and media organization in the state are decrying as unprecedented.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that McCrory’s staff has interpreted a clause in North Carolina’s public records law in a way that allows for “special service charge” on any records request that requires more than a half-hour to process.
According to the AP, the governor’s office has levied hundreds of dollars of fees for digital copies of emails that were provided by previous administrations without charge.
Journalists in the state argue that the policy is antithetical to the law, which says that the government documents “are the property of the people.”
Kim Genardo, a spokeswoman for McCrory, told the AP that smaller requests are still handled for free, but she defended the fees.
“I can tell you that with extensive staff time, we are going to charge. Because everyone here has a job to do and a job function. And, yes, we do have to facilitate public records,” Genardo said.